Via email to John Clare, Director General Strategic Policy, Cannabis, Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch – firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Notice of Intent — Consultation on Potential Amendments to the Cannabis Regulations
Dear Mr. John Clare,
My name is Jennawae Cavion and I am the Executive Director of NORML Canada. I also own cannabis retail stores in Kingston, ON.
NORML Canada is a Canadian non-profit established in 1978 representing the interest of cannabis users (both medical and recreational), producers and retailers and anyone with an interest in the Canadian regulated cannabis space.
I have collaborated with my colleague Courtland Sandover-Sly, board member at NORML Canada (but also a micro-licence applicant), and together we would like to address some of the questions posed in the regulatory consultation.
Licensed applicants should be able to hold starting material on-site from the date of the declaration. Between the time of declaration and licence approval the plants should be allowed to mature at a natural rate. Currently there is an allowance for plant material to be on-site, but CRA requires weekly recordkeeping that impedes natural growth. Health Canada should then issue a temporary exemption from these CRA filings until the approval process is complete. This is important because the declaration is made long before the application is received. This legitimizes the holding of start material prior to the issuance of the licence.
Specific measures that could be taken to increase the flexibility of the licensed cannabis processors and reduce the burden on the QAP would be to allow the QAP to work remotely whenever possible.
- Personnel and physical security measures
Health Canada should allow for at-large security clearances. Without at-large security clearances, applicants are often waiting for background checks much after other branches have completed their review process. All clearances should be done in a timely manner with a prescribed service standard to ensure the expedient processing of applications.
The requirements of visual monitoring for outdoor grows should only be applicable during seasons where cannabis is actively flowering. Visual recording devices, intrusion detection systems and record-keeping, monitoring and response should not be required when there is no cannabis actively flowering. Cannabis that is not flowering is not valuable.
- Production requirements for cannabis products
The maximum quantity of delta-9-THC that can be contained in a cannabis product should not be limited to apply to the sum total of intoxicating cannabinoids found in the product. There should be no limit to the maximum quantity of delta-9-THC (or any intoxicating cannabinoids) in any cannabis product. Instead, package sizes should be unlimited with clearly indicated 1-10mg units of dosage. Health Canada also must define which cannabinoids are and are not considered intoxicating.
- Packaging and labelling requirements for cannabis products
All cannabinoids tested (intoxicating or not) should be listed on packaging so consumers can make educated decisions about the products they are using. If a product is claiming to have more than trace amounts of a cannabinoid or is outright being marketed as rich in a particular minor cannabinoid, the content should be clearly disclosed on the front label.
Packaging requirements should be amended to allow for any colour of packaging the producer sees fit, including clear packaging and clear outer wrapping. Additionally, to reduce excessive packaging waste, immediate containers with an outermost container should be permitted, and the outermost container should not require additional labelling (other than the THC label). The requirement to have packaging that contrasts with the warning labels and symbol so they are clearly visible is onerous. The labels are designed to stand out, and they do–even on products that are similarly coloured you can still clearly distinguish the warning labels.
We also have expiration dates on cannabis packaging, but no expiration dates have been established. As such, this should be repealed.
Until cannabinoid testing is fully standardized, labels should include a range of THC that includes the lowest test they found as well as the highest test on the same product. Instead of THC Value, we should be showing THC value range. This will help mitigate issues we are seeing with inflated THC numbers that are eroding the marketplace (and leading to labels with misinformation). There should also be a disclaimer added to every container that says “Cannabinoid content may vary” (only the best sample was sent to a specific lab, which is not necessarily indicative of a whole crop).
Outer wholesale cases should have a consistent larger font size for key information on the outside of cases (which will make for easier picking in provincial distribution centres all the way down to licensed retailers) which will reduce mispicks and loss. The brand, product, lot number, package date and delta-9-THC and CBD content should all be listed in a consistent font size (12 pt or larger, bold) on one side of the box. This simple change would not negatively impact public health or safety.
- Record keeping and reporting for cannabis licence holders
Currently the reporting required by micro-licence holders is burdensome and difficult to complete especially with limited resources in small operations. Health Canada should remove the requirement for a promotion expenditure report and to maintain a record of key investors. Health Canada should remove the requirements for licence holders to retain a copy of every promotion for a period of two years. These are onerous requirements that may not be particularly useful to Health Canada’s objective of protecting public health and safety. Additionally, Health Canada should decrease the time period for advanced notice of new cannabis products from 60 calendar days to 30 calendar days.
Lastly (and arguably most importantly) we would ask that you review the levels of excise tax being taken from Licensed Producers. Taxation is the single largest pain point for all producers. This is also helping the unregulated market compete (where they don’t pay any tax at all). When the taxes were introduced pre-legalization they were based on $10 per gram pricing. Since then the average price per gram has dropped to around half that amount (but taxation has remained the same). At this point it remains an unachievable barrier for all producers.
We hope our comments have been helpful,
Board of Directors